A/N: I am really sorry to spring this on you, but this will be the final chapter of this story. I have been writing this lovely piece since May of last year and I feel like our journey is complete for this story. I just wanted to thank you all so very much from the bottom of my heart for following this, reviewing, and being faithful readers even when I didn't always update as frequently as I would have liked. Please accept this last chapter as my thank you to all of you for everything you've done for me as the writer. I love you all. And look for more Bones stories in the future!
One year. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred and sixty five days. Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty hours.
Temperance Brennan had been a mother for one full year now. And that year had been full of changes. Stella had been growing so quickly since her birth and was now crawling everywhere and standing up on her own, not yet brave enough to take her first steps. Her first word had been at five months, when she yelled "Mama" from her crib after waking up to find herself alone in her nursery. She had a head full of dark curls, making her look more like her father, but still retained her piercing blue eyes that connected her so closely to Brennan herself. She also had Booth's smile and her hands, which she herself had inherited from her own mother. Over all, Stella Christine Booth was one of the most strikingly beautiful toddlers that ever had been born. But Brennan might have been a bit biased because she was her own child. But then again, most mothers were biased toward their own children and thought they were the most wonderful thing in the world. Angela certainly seemed so with her own son, Michael, who was almost two now.
The last year had brought many changes to her relationship with Booth as well. They had moved in together during her pregnancy, but now were living as a family unit. Waking up each morning and going to sleep every night next to her partner was one of the most wonderful feelings in the world to Brennan. She had never thought that a domestic life shared with someone else could be fulfilling, until she and Booth started that life together. He understood her in ways that no one else did and pushed her boundaries and comfort zones to make her grow. While he had done that for her, she had given him the family life he had always wanted, but in their own fashion. They were no ordinary couple, but then again they never had been ordinary from the start.
Leaning over her crib, she watched her daughter sleep on the morning of her first birthday, thinking about the day her daughter came into the world. It had been New Year's Eve when she had gone into labor at the party with their friends and family present. But she didn't give birth until the next morning at nearly six in the morning. Stella was brought into the world as the sounds of her and Booth's song, Hot Blooded, played over the stereo. An appropriate entrace for their child. That was the day she became a mother...when she looked into the eyes of her precious daughter. Now her little girl was a year old and she couldn't believe time had passed so quickly. The year had been peppered with family, growth, and change. Parker slipped into his role as a big brother easier than they expected and now he was a constant around their home almost every weekend now. And she and Booth had transitioned from partners to lovers to parents, but not without their own bumps along the way. Though they didn't agree on everything when it came to raising their daughter, they did agree that she deserved the best.
Lifting Stella out of her crib, she cradled her child close to her, letting her head rest on her shoulder while she kissed her forehead. The baby stayed asleep, comforted by her mother's embrace as Brennan walked across the room and sat in the rocking chair. There would be a birthday party later, thrown by Angela. Everyone they knew would be attending, including the children of their friends. Everyone would sing "Happy Birthday" to Stella and there would be cake, presents, and lots of excitement. But right now, Brennan wanted a few quiet moments to herself with her daughter on her first birthday. Holding her close, she breathed in the scent of Stella's baby shampoo and remembered what it was like to hold her for the first time. How wonderfully terrifying it felt and how she had been scared of what she would do as a mother. But now she felt nothing but confidence and love for her child.
"I love you Stella," she whispered. "Happy first birthday."
Her little one stirred for a moment, seemingly awakening to her mother's voice, but lulled back to sleep in the quiet of the morning. Stella had always been a sound sleeper after she started sleeping through the nights, which she and Booth were thankful for once they resumed having intercourse after she had been cleared at six weeks post-birth. Laughing a little as Stella started to snore, she brushed back some of her daughter's curls, running her finger along her chubby little cheek just as she had done from the moment Stella was born. The silver of her dolphin ring caught her eye and she looked at it before glancing at her child.
"One day, when you're old enough, I'll tell you about your Grandma Christine...my mom," she said softly. Talking to her daughter like she was an adult was something Brennan had done since she was born. It helped with vocabulary skills and language development. "And one day, this ring will be yours to keep...to remind you of her and of me. I would like to think she would have spoiled you like your grandfather does."
Max Keenan was the epitome of a grandfather to Stella as he spoiled her rotten with gifts and affection every time he came to visit. Booth's grandfather was the same way, so Stella was lucky with the family she had, which was more than Brennan had ever been given growing up after her parents left. The last thing she had ever wanted was to bring a child into the world without giving him or her a family to grow up in. Stella had a wonderful and loving family, including the extension of their close friends. That was something she had hoped to give her own children and had.
Holding Stella close, Brennan realized how happy she was in her life. She had a family, friends, and a career she was proud of. Booth was a wonderful man and the most amazing father to both Parker and Stella, but he was also the best partner and boyfriend she'd ever had. And she had the life she never once thought she'd have. Looking down at Stella, she smiled and kissed her nose softly. This was perfection.